Nationalism in Europe, 1918–45

Oliver Zimmer

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199209194
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Nationalism in Europe, 1918–45

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  • History
  • European History
  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)



Interwar Europe, and particularly its central and eastern regions, witnessed a clash between the hegemonic nationalism of so-called successor states such as Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia and the irredentist nationalism of defeated states like Hungary and Germany. The former interpreted the Wilsonian principle of national self-determination as the right of the dominant nationality to impose its culture on the minority populations living within a particular state territory. These nationalist policies caused a great deal of resentment among the populations (rather than merely the elites) of the revisionist states. While this fateful dynamic could build on pre-war ideological traditions of organic and expansionist nationalism, it was the radicalization they experienced after 1918 in a number of societies—above all Germany and Italy, but also Hungary and Romania—that rendered them a powerful device for fascist mobilization. For the leaders and supporters of fascist regimes, open threats and expansionist warfare were equally legitimate means to realize revisionist and expansionist goals.

Keywords: Nationalism; fascism; successor states; ethnic and national minorities; interwar Europe; national self-determination; irredentism; revisionism; expansionism

Article.  10347 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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